So we went to PAX2015 over the weekend…! For those who aren’t aware, PAX is one of the biggest gaming events in Australia. PAX was started by the people behind the immensely popular web comic Penny Arcade in 2004, when they decided that they wanted an exclusive gaming show. From a small 4,500 person event in Bellevue, Washington, it’s expanded to an international event that typically attracts tens of thousands of people. In 2013 it came to Australia, where it’s been in Melbourne yearly since. Not just about computer gaming, it’s also about tabletop, card games and more.
For the new and uninitiated, PAX can be overwhelming. In Melbourne, for example, the event books out the entirety of MCEC – both buildings, running panels, display sections, shops, tabletop gaming areas and more. It often draws in top end gaming studios: this year, CD Projekt Red had a quest design panel for their blockbuster Witcher 3 game, and Naughty Dog launched Uncharted 4. With profits from the video game industry fast outstripping films – Metal Gear Solid 5: Phantom Pain for example, made more money on its launch day than Jurassic World – it’s unsurprising that game events like PAX can be so lavish.
PAX2015 Australia was a 3 day event (Friday to Sunday), where Saturday often runs to quite late, with concerts and parties into the night.
Still a 100% gaming event, it’s a showcase both for upcoming or newly released blockbuster games, indie games, tech companies like Logitech and more.
The indie game corner (to the right) is a cool showcase for small developers.
Big budget games like Fallout often go all out creating elaborate branded sections. Here, Bethesda has created a vault to help drum up excitement for its upcoming November 11 release, complete with giveaways for an immersive experience.
And of course there’s the cosplay! Here’s the Final Fantasy X group.
… and Dragon Age.
Some people, like this Morrigan cosplayer, go to great professional lengths on their costumes, just for events like these.
It still feels amazing that a webcomic somehow leveraged itself into an international branded experience that attracts huge gatherings of fans. Events like PAX remain some of the best ways that some brands have to reach out and interact with their consumers. PAX has also tried to balance its various communities, growing more inclusive to different gamers: the storytelling panels on Saturday (all male) and Sunday (all female) were markedly different in terms of content and topics. For those uninterested in panels, there are also other events exclusive to PAX – people can acquire pins and other PAX collectibles in little events that make being at PAX more immersive. As a branded experience, PAX definitely has a lot to teach others.